Member Alert: Court ruling confirms ‘community’ in community owned bank

12 March 2021

The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals congratulates Community First Credit Union on successfully winning their legal fight to allow community owned banks to use the term ‘community bank’.

BCCM CEO, Melina Morrison said for two decades, Bendigo Bank trademarked the words ‘community bank’ and applied for and won a court injunction that would stop any bank using the words ‘community bank’ in name or marketing collateral, effecting a monopoly on the terminology.

“Today the Federal Court/Court of Appeals successfully ruled in favour of Community First Credit Union and dismissed the appeal by Bendigo and Adelaide Bank,” Ms Morrison said.

“In 2019, the Federal Court ruled that Bendigo Bank must deregister their trademark that includes the words ‘community bank’. The decision, upheld through appeal, grants Community First Credit Union the ability to register the words ‘community bank’ in their name.

“It is the antithesis of community banking to trademark the phrase ‘community bank’. Mutuals are the original community lending model, they are owned by their members and have always put their communities before profit.”

Ms Morrison said that it was appropriate that Community First Credit Union were able to finally describe their business model for what it is – real community banking.

“Community banking is more than a trademark or marketing strategy.  It is a philosophy of service that sees the bank support the community that supports them,” Ms Morrison said.

“Community-owned banks are a key pillar of Australia’s co-operative and mutual business sector. In 2019, this was formally recognized by the Commonwealth Government who changed the Corporations Act to ensure co-operatives and mutuals were properly defined and able to raise capital.

“It is important that all Australians are able to have choice in who they bank with and how they bank.”

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